The Switzerland-based Centre for Security Studies (CSS) has published a report, focusing on the “Dynamics of Radicalization and Violent Extremism in Kosovo”, which claims that “foreign-funded extremist networks” are active in states applying to join the European Union (EU).
The report, originally authored for the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), claims that Macedonia, an official Candidate Country for the bloc, is subject to “long-term and targeted radicalization, recruitment, and mobilization efforts”, alongside neighbouring Kosovo.
Author Adrian Shtuni describes how more than a thousand fanatics have travelled to Syria and Iraq from the two countries, as well as from Albania, Bosnia, and other Balkan states.
Albania, which was made a Candidate Country in 2014, imprisoned three clerics who had been recruiting jihadi fighters last April, and a terror plot aimed at the visiting Israeli football team was barely foiled in November after Israeli security services raised the alarm.
The bloc signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with Bosnia in 2015 and deploys “considerable resources” there via its Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), but the German news outlet Der Spiegel reported last April that “in some remote villages, the black flag of IS is flown”.
The Ministry of Security in Bosnia has denied the existence of such “Sharia villages”, but Der Spiegel claims the public prosecutor responsible for terrorism investigations has conceded “that there are places in the northern part of the country where up to forty Islamist families live in accordance with Sharia law”.
Similar reports have described the country as a “recruitment hotbed” for Islamic State, furnishing the terror group with hundreds of soldiers, and munitions used in attacks on a Jewish supermarket and the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris have been traced back to it.
Kosovo has provided Islamic State with more foreign fighters than any other European country, per capita, including the notorious Lavdrim Muhaxheri (pictured above), who has appeared on social media beheading one hostage and executing another with a rocket-propelled grenade.
This is despite an expensive and extensive EU rule-of-law mission in the breakaway state. This mission has itself been mired in controversy, with a UK whistleblower accusing it of corruption and bribe-taking.